12th January 2022 marked the 141st anniversary of the foundation of the “Mary Hollon Annuity & Coal Fund”, which is now the “Mary Hollon Annuity & Relief in Need Trust”.
After Mary Hollon’s death in 1880, Richard Welch Hollon was devastated. He had had nearly 25 very happy years with his wife and wanted to mark not only their relationship, but also Mary’s continuing love and affection for Morpeth where she grew up. So, he gave the Corporation of Morpeth £5,000 to set up a fund.
The principal benefactors would be 13 women & 12 men, over 60, who were sober, and of upright & good moral standing. These twentyfive people (one for each year of the Hollon’s marrige) would be entertained at a “liberal meat tea” each year and receive a quarterly sum of £10 plus ton of coal at Christmas. That £5,000 would be equivalent to about £571,755 today – which just shows how both how wealthy and how generous Richard Hollon was.
The formal Deed of Covenant was signed on 12th January 1881, although the first Hollon Tea was held on 5 November 1880 – what would have been the Hollon’s 25th wedding anniversary if Mary had lived. Just to show how prices have changed, a newspaper article in the 1890’s shows the total cost of the Tea for 25 annuitants and an unknown number of guests was £3 6s 6d. (about £3.32), it costs considerably more than that today!
The Hollon Trust is Morpeth’s oldest charity and still provides the “Hollon” Tea for our annuitants (now numbering 80), aged over 75, held on the Hollon’s wedding anniversary every 5th November. The Trust also assists Morpeth residents in need who are referred to us by agencies such as Social Services and Citizens Advice.
Alison Byard, Trustee of the Hollon Trust January 2022
In 2018, the Morpeth & District Chamber of Trade “chose” to celebrate their 150th anniversary. This article by Chamber Chairman Ken Brown explains why:
Until a couple of years ago, it was believed that the Chamber of Trade has only been in existence since the 1950s. However, after research by Chamber members, it has been discovered that a predecessor of the Chamber was already active way back in 1868, as evidenced by a Morpeth Herald article referring to the “Chamber of Commerce” holding their “usual meeting” in the Black Bull. So, Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade chose to celebrate their “150th anniversary” in 2018.
The Organisation has changed its name a few times in its 150 years. In 1903 it changed from “Morpeth Chamber of Commerce” to the “Morpeth Tradesmen’s Association”. This lasted until 1943 when the then Chairman, Malcolm Wood, became despondent at the apathy of local traders in responding to the threat of the German Luftwaffe, despite having established a mutual aid scheme to provide aid to traders whose property was damaged by enemy action. In the hope of broadening its appeal, the Association changed its name back to the Morpeth and District Chamber of Commerce. Since the 1960’s it has been known as the Morpeth Chamber of Trade.
Many of the issues dealt with by the Chamber over the years continue to return… For example, in 1906 there was an angry response to the “foolish proposal” of not permitting horses and carts to stand in Bridge Street for unloading as they were continually being moved on by the police.
In 1949, there was a plea to remove parking charges (only the Terrace Car Park was free at the time). There was also outcry when it was claimed that cars were being forced off the main street by police as the proposed bypass wasn’t likely to happen for a number of years. Sounds familiar doesn’t it!
In the late 1960s, the Chamber launched “The Morpeth Rant” a free publication for the people of the town. This carried news, in particular news relating to businesses and the development of the town and much more besides.
At that time, the town’s Christmas Lights were hand-made and erected by members of the Chamber of Trade – probably something that would scare the pants off Health and Safety experts in the current era. It was very labour intensive and became more and more expensive – so Fair Day was created primarily to provide funds for the Christmas Lights.